The project engineer for the Highway 24 culvert installation says the entire project is taking longer than anticipated.
Culvert under construction on Highway 24
This has left many people living near the Highway 24 corridor uneasy as the next flash flood season quickly approaches. The flooding of 2013 still weighs heavily on many minds, and those scenes from last year--mudslides, cars swept away, people scrambling out of their vehicles--are images we all hope to never see again.
Crews have been working tirelessly over the last two months to install a giant culvert under the highway before the monsoon season starts. The culvert will be 10 times larger than the one in place last summer, which 11 News Chief Meteorologist Brian Bledsoe says could help minimize the effects of flooding off the Waldo Canyon burn scar.
"Debris was clogging the [old] culvert, so even just a little bit of rain that would run off the sides of those hills...if the culvert was clogged it would spill onto the road."
Engineers hope the new culvert will be able to contain more mud and debris, keeping it off the highway.
However, even though the completed project is expected to make the highway safer during the rainy season, CDOT says they may still have to close the highway if there is too much rain.
The project was scheduled to be completed by the end of April, but now it's on a four-week delay. Bledsoe says it's vital that this project get wrapped as soon as possible.
"As we transition out of April into May we could already be talking about flash flood potential...so the fact that it's slightly delayed now is not a huge issue, but I certainly wouldn't want it delayed much longer."
Bledsoe explained that already in 2014, we are seeing more storms producing moisture hit the area.
"The weather pattern this spring is already different than what we've seen over the past couple of springs. It's more active.
"What if we start having the wet season in May and it rains from May through September. That gives us a whole two more months where we have to worry about flash flooding potential."
CDOT is aiming to complete the project by Memorial Day. For the next five weeks, drivers should continue to expect delays on the highway just west of Manitou as crews work.